Roast Lemon Chicken

This is the easiest chicken recipe I have and, I think, the best.

The chicken is moist, tender and lightly flavored with lemon. The skin puffs up, away from the chicken which is rather interesting.

The gravy, if you choose to make it, is excellent. I made this to go with the Roast Lemon Potatoes and skipped the gravy.

It was a perfect match.

! don’t know where I got the recipe but I do remember that it was a food magazine and it was called ‘Italian Roast Chicken’.

That’s a much nicer name than the one my family dubbed it.

I’ll give credit for the name to my DS.  He makes this often to show off his culinary skills to friends and girlfriends.

He calls it ‘Lemon Butt Chicken’.

Descriptive, yes.  Accurate, yes.

Did the name stick?  Absolutely!

I have only one word of caution when you make this…..

It’s a simple recipe with only 2 ingredients (unless you make the gravy). Don’t mess it up by doing something crazy like adding salt or butter or something.

Trust me on this.

Roast Lemon Chicken

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • 2 small lemons, preferably thin-skinned and juicy
  • For Gravy – if you choose
  • 1 cup (8oz, 2240ml) chicken stock
  • 1 – 2 tbs cornstarch (maizena)

Lemon Chicken


  • Roll the lemons on the counter with your hand a few times, pressing lightly.
  • With a toothpick prick the lemons all over, 20 – 25 times.
  • Put the lemons inside the chicken.
  • With kitchen string (or whatever) tie the legs together.  Twist the wing tips around so they are tucked under the back, supporting the chicken.  (If you don’t do these last two it won’t affect the recipe – only the appearance.)
  • Do not salt, butter, oil or anything else.
  • Put breast side down in a roasting pan and roast at 350F for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken over and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven to 400F and roast for 20 – 25 more minutes.  Skin should be golden brown and puffy.
  • Remove, let rest for 5 – 10 minutes, then carve and serve with pan juices.
  • For a thicker sauce/gravy: 
  • Pour 1/2 cup chicken stock into the roasting pan.
  • Scrape up any brown bits and pour it all into a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Dissolve 1 tbs cornstarch in 1/2 cup chicken stock.
  • Slowly pour into saucepan, stirring until clear and thickened to your liking.  Serve with chicken.

Print Recipe

You can tell that’s a local free-range chicken, can’t you? Long legs, dark skin on the wings….

I did pluck the off feather before roasting.

Spring is here.

The quiet lazy days of winter or over and the work begins.

From now until sometime in October we’ll be gardening – that includes mowing and hoeing and planting and weeding and rearranging dirt and complaining about bunny incursions.

Last week I showed you the pretty tulips I had at our previous house here in France.

This is my herb garden here, safely tucked away from the our dogs.


I’m just getting started on the spring clean-up but, as you can see, I already have marjoram, oregano, and chives growing and the parsley and sage have survived the winter.

In contrast this is what my herb garden in the Vendèe looked like:


I designed it, laid out the paths, dug in the border stones and spread the white stones on the paths.


It took me over a month, working everyday, to get it done.

I loved that garden.

A few more herbs than we needed, perhaps, but it was a pleasure walking in it and working in it.

The dirt was better, too.

Last update on April 4, 2016

4 thoughts on “Roast Lemon Chicken”

  1. Looks like the perfect chicken and the recipe couldn’t be easier. Will get a chicken from my neighbor and roast it for us both. She raises and processes her own free-range chickens when the foxes let her keep them. They are amazingly good.

  2. We had that last night – it is a Marcella Hazan recipe. It is delicious and as you say, the gravy is very good. I always make that for my husband. I also do a slight variation by loosening the skin over the breast and top of the drumsticks using a spoon and push in some finely chopped herbs. If you don’t break the skin, it still puffs up but not as much.

    I do like both of your herb gardens but the first one is much more decorative but no doubt needed much more maintenance.

  3. Elle, our chicken are very flavorful, too. And the feathers now longer bother me lol

    Gill, thanks for letting me know. I do something similar with the herbs and lemon juice for the barbecue in summer – which means soon. A lot of maintenance, yes, but it was a joy to be out there.

    kate – in your new oven!

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